Tag:Pat Riley
Posted on: May 16, 2011 12:38 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 5:22 am

LeBron James stumbles out of gate in East finals

Miami Heat forward LeBron James came up small against the Chicago Bulls in Game 1. Posted by Ben Golliver.


In Game 1, LeBron James showed up ready for the battle, but not the war. 

Miami's All-Star forward closed out the Boston Celtics in memorable fashion, sending them packing with a dominant 10-point run that featured 3-pointers, a dunk and a crucial steal. It was James' two-way dominance on display, on a huge stage, for all to see.

James began Game 1 in much the same way, controlling the early game action on both ends. In the game's first minute, he registered a blocked shot, a rebound, a beautiful outlet pass to Dwyane Wade for a dunk, and a dunk of his own. For 60 seconds he was unstoppable. For the next 47 minutes he was as invisible as he ever gets.

James finished with 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting, six rebounds and six assists. Throw on top two steals and three blocks and that line could be no worse than average for most players. For James, though, it was his worst line since all the way back on Feb. 6, when he had just 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and six turnovers against the Los Angeles Clippers

The pregame questions circled around how effectively Chicago would be able to defend James and Wade. They aced their first test, holding the duo to just 33 points on 32 shots, numbers that went a long way to ensuring Chicago's eventual 103-82 victory. As always, it was a five-man effort for the Bulls. And Chicago provided excellent secondary help behind forward Luol Deng, who, to everyone's surprise, outplayed James on both ends of the floor. 

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was full of praise for Deng afterward notes ESPNChicago.com.
"Luol, you can count on him every night," Thibodeau said. "Luol is going to make him work.

"But Luol, it's not only his individual defense, it's his team defense. And I think it's critical for us. So it's not only when he's guarding LeBron with the ball, but when he's away from the ball, he fulfills his help responsibility so well. He can help, recover, challenge his shot and get back in and rebound. He does so many different things for us." 
Deng was huge, but James shrunk too. With the game tied at the half, the Heat, and James in particular, simply did not explode out of the gates to take command of second half action. On the contrary, they got steamrolled by a 19-10 Chicago run. In the entire third quarter, James registered two points, two assists and one block. The game-dominating energy and focus simply weren't there. Chicago had ramped up and James was no longer dictating the game flow or the action.

There's no fear and plenty of fight in the Bulls, which puts the onus on James to exert his force and will in Game 2. The time for James to own the action for more than a minute is now.

Posted on: May 16, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 5:25 am

Game 1 Bulls-Heat report card

Posted by Royce Young

The Bulls took a convincing Game 1 win over the Heat 103-82. Let's grade!

Chicago defense: The Heat have proven to be susceptible to falling into stagnant offense full of jumpshooting and watching. The Bulls took full advantage of that. Miami never got into any rhythm in the second half, as LeBron struggled creating offense, Dwyane Wade struggled scoring and all the Heat's role players didn't produce much. But that's a credit to the terrific swarming Chicago defense. Grade: A

Bulls-Heat: Game 1
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Derrick Rose: I don't think anyone would classify Rose's game as spectacular, but he was controlled, smart and took almost entirely good shots. He went 10-22 for 28 points and dropped some big baskets in key moments for Chicago. Grade: A-

Chicago's bench: By Chicago bench, I really just mean Taj Gibson. Two massive dunks, a ton of energy and great pick-and-roll defense. The entire Bulls bench was solid, but Gibson was excellent. Grade: B+

Miami's bench: Pretty much entirely the opposite of the Bulls. Just 15 points total, seven rebounds and seven turnovers. It was not a great effort. Grade: F

Rebounding: The Bulls killed the Heat on the glass 45-33, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds. Miami's defensive rebound rate was a horrible 58.7 percent, which would be a low for the entire season. Chicago used all those rebounds to pile up 19 more shot attempts than the Heat. Not a single Miami player finished in double-figures rebounding. Chicago Grade: A. Miami Grade: F

Chris Bosh: Tell most everyone that Chris Bosh scores 30 points on 18 shots and the consensus would be the Heat take care of business in Game 1. Bosh was tremendous. He played well within his means, hit jumpers, scored inside, worked on the glass -- he was very good. He outplayed Carlos Boozer, and that seemed like what it would take for the Heat to win. Alas, in classic Bosh fashion, his good game will be forgotten because it came in a 21-point loss. Grade: A-

Dwyane Wade: Wade scored 18 on 17 shots and took a mean poster from Taj Gibson. He only took four free throws and didn't have near the look you'd hope to see from him in a Game 1. Wade finished as a game-high (or low, depending on perspective) -22. Grade: D+

LeBron James: Mostly the same story on LeBron as Wade. Fifteen points on 15 shots, six assists, six rebounds and only four free-throw attempts. And Luol Deng pretty much outplayed him in every way. Deng deserves credit for the defense, but the way LeBron was absolutely unable to get going is a bit distressing. Grade: D+

Posted on: May 15, 2011 11:25 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:24 am

ECF Heat-Bulls Game 1 MVP: Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah leads the Bulls to a Game 1 win over the Heat with a boatload of offensive rebounds. 

Posted by Matt Moore

How can you possibly be the MVP of a Conference Finals game when you shoot 4-14 for nine points? Joakim Noah can tell you. Noah was the MVP of the Bulls' Game 1 win over the Heat. Derrick Rose lead in scoring, and Taj Gibson had the play of the night (or the other play of the night), but it was Noah who set the tone for the Bulls with one word: intensity. The Heat were taken aback by Chicago's ferocity defensively and especially on the offensive glass, and Noah was the biggest reason for that. 

The Heat had six offensive rebounds. Joakim Noah had eight by himself. The Bulls finished with 19 offensive rebounds in total, leading to 31 second chance points. The Bulls' offense isn't the smoothest or best functioning in the league, but if you give them 19 extra possessions, you're going to wind up getting hammered, and that's what the Bulls did. Noah attacked every drive, helped shut off the lane and kept LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the perimeter. Chris Bosh had his biggest night, with a lot of the work against Noah, but that was in part because Bosh was just on fire, and in part because Noah was chasing help on every other option. Noah's points came off easy scores, and his tip-ins demoralized the Heat at every angle. 

Erik Spoelstra helped the Bulls out with his terrible roster and rotation decisions, but Noah was the fuse that ignited the Bulls' second half rout. He was relentless, he fueled his teammates' fire, and he set the example for what the Bulls had to give, diving in the first quarter to save a loose ball and kick start the fastbreak. Noah didn't dominate from the field. He didn't need to. He showed the Heat that the Bulls wanted it more. That's what won the game. 

But having Rose didn't hurt.
Posted on: May 15, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 12:04 am

Taj Gibson putback dunk video: Bulls vs. Heat

Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls had a massive putback dunk against the Miami Heat in Game 1. Posted by Ben Golliver.

It's not every day that you absolutely destroy Dwyane Wade. It's even rarer for it to happen and then to still have people debating whether or not it was even your best dunk of the night.

But that's how good Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson was during Sunday night's Game 1 against the Miami Heat.

With Chicago leading 101-80 with less than forty seconds to play, Bulls guard C.J. Watson jacked up a three-pointer. Gibson was roaming the baseline and the Heat left him unchecked on the boards. With Bulls center Omer Asik tying up both Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem, Gibson had a clear lane to the basket. As Watson's three-pointer drew back iron, Gibson leapt and snared the rebound with his right hand. In one motion, without coming down, Gibson crammed the carom back through the rim with spectacular force.

The dunk made the Bulls bench -- including MVP Derrick Rose -- explode in excitement. 

Earlier, we brought you video of Gibson's two-hand takedown of Wade.

Here's video of Gibson's monster one-hand putback in the fourth quarter.

The Bulls prevailed, 103-82, to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Gibson finished with nine points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 23 minutes off of Chicago's bench.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 12:10 am

Taj Gibson dunks on Dwyane Wade video

Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson puts Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade on a poster. Posted by Ben Golliver.

We have a new leader in the clubhouse for best dunk of the 2010-2011 NBA playoffs.

During the second quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson annihilated Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade with a vicious two-hand dunk in transition.

The play began with a turnover by Heat guard Mario Chalmers. Bulls forward Luol Deng gathered the ball and tossed an outlet pass to Bulls guard C.J. Watson, who led a three-on-one break with Wade the only defender getting back. Watson dished to the trailing Gibson, who wasted no time in hauling in the pass near the free throw line, taking two gather steps and then throwing in a two-handed dunk over Wade, who contested with both hands. 

Gibson's flush went in cleanly and Wade was whistled for a foul on the play.

Here's the must-see video of Gibson's dunk on Wade. Don't miss Gibson's fourth quarter putback dunk which was almost as impressive.


Posted on: May 15, 2011 2:18 pm

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 1

Join us for a livechat at 7PM EST leading up to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. We'll cover such insightful topics as:

And other actually relevant topics. Join us at 7PM EST on CBSSports.com

Posted on: May 15, 2011 1:05 pm

Really, Chicago? Really?

Posted by Matt Moore

From the Chicago Sun-Times...


Hey, the crying thing was only two months ago, and it's not like the Heat just got done spilling the Celtics from the playoffs in a gentleman's sweep. So, really, this is entirely appropriate.  


(Via SBNation.com.) 
Posted on: May 14, 2011 7:34 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 8:58 pm

What's at Stake: Dwyane Wade

What's at stake for Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals?

Posted by Matt Moore

It was easier for Dwyane Wade, for his peace of mind, at least. A championship in your third season takes the pressure off of your Build-A-Legacy workshop. The only problem is it robs the player of blissful ignorance. Dwyane Wade has suffered through the past five seasons having tasted championship champagne and never sipping it again. The pressure of watching your career unwind without that ring is greater, LeBron will be the first to tell you that, Garnett's the one who taught it to him.

But Wade remains driven by the memories of 2006, determined not to rest on his laurels. For Wade, this championship drive is deeply personal, but it's not because of some pre-ordained self-concept as is the case with LeBron James. James is incomplete without a title, his self-image not hollow as so many of his critics claim, but incomplete, as if half his face is missing. Wade does not approach winning as a badge to be earned, part of his fashion statement. It's inherent. Wade reflects Kobe Bryant in that regard, the drive a part of his makeup. The difference being that Bryant would never deign to allow a superstar equal in caliber. Things have to be done on his terms. That's Bryant's makeup. Wade's, on the other hand, is to win regardless of ego, within acceptable boundaries. He ceded iconic status to Shaq. He considered joining Rose's Bulls (and though from Chicago and a substantially larger star, refers to Chicago as "Rose's city"). Wade not only accepted but recruited James to join his team, to become the face of the franchise he'd taken to their first title. Wade's ego is considerable, but he manages to shape it around whatever situation is best for him. 

Eastern Conference Finals: Heat vs. Bulls
For Wade, the fashion and lifestyle is a significant part of his life, but he's always been driven by winning, career wise. Wade's never complained much about his exclusion from MVP consideration. The 2008 season was murder on him, watching his team fall apart while he had to sit by injured. Missing out on Rose was the icing on the cake. Wade suffered through two more seasons, trying to grow Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. But his patience didn't allow for it. For all the talk of how players should try and "do it themselves," Wade can speak to the frustration of not having the roster to contend, and the experience of getting swept from the playoff seas by superior teams, like the Celtics.

Wade was central to this plan, to put together the Triad. Rumors put he and Pat Riley's machinations back years ago. Wade recruited the other two, sold them on the plan, got them to his city, not Chicago or New York. A failure this season, even with all the promsie of the future, means he sacrificed top billing for nothing. It means he may have been wrong in the plan. That all the criticism, the boos, the hatred, the hits to his popularity, was for nothing. That's a crushing blow, on top of what Wade hates more than anything: losing. 

Wade needs to succeed, but not only that, he has to make his statement known as far as his involvement. If Bosh steps up, it's about how Bosh surprised everyone. If it's James, well, that's a whole other set of issues. Wade has to succeed and yet somehow impress everyone. That's what this series is about. It's going to be difficult for him, heading into his hometown to ruin their hopes. Well, okay, no it won't. Wade knows this is a business. He's got his guys, they've got theirs. 

Wade has quietly had a stunning season, but a quick look at the All-NBA team rosters confirms how he's slipped in James' shadow, despite equal play. Wade needs to rise up beside James, showing their equals. That was the goal when this thing started. Wade has to finish the job, or his latter career will start to override the shine of that ring he received in that third year.
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